House types vary from region to region. Generally they are built of rectangular bricks of clay mixed with chopped straw, dried in the sun. In cities, especially in Kābul, they are reinforced with poplar beams to withstand frequent earthquakes. Mostly they have only one floor and lack windows to the street; sometimes there is a small wooden veranda. The well-to-do dwellings have two courtyards; the internal one is reserved for women. In the O. the house is of Persian type, with a domed vaulted roof (Qandahār). In the mountains the houses are built of overlapping stones; in the central Hindū Kush there are small round stone houses, reminiscent of the Kyrgyz yurt. In Kāfiristān and in the valleys of the Hindū Kush villages are often on a slope, and the roof of a house serves as a terrace for the upper one.bāmyān). For Afghanistan culture and traditions, please check animalerts.com.
The furniture is primitive; the poor sleep on the ground and keep the little things in wooden and leather chests. In well-to-do homes the ci ā rp ā i is used, a bed formed by a four-legged frame, with a net of ropes. Heating is done with braziers. The use of prayer rugs and mats is general. The diet is simple: lots of fruit, little meat, mostly sheep, lots of tea, no alcoholic drinks.
The men all wear beards, sometimes dyed with henna; they wear wide trousers (up to below the knee in the countryside, up to the ankle in the city), loose shirts, knee length, often embroidered; wide belt, cloth or velvet waistcoat, padded and embroidered in gold; raised toe sandals. The turban varies in shape and color according to the tribes. In cities, civilized people wear a small fez of astrakhan or cloth; the wealthy often adopt the European riding costume. In winter they wear sheepskin jackets with wool inside (p ō st ī n) or striped woolen shawls.
The female costume is a high-necked full dress, which reaches just above the ankle, with sleeves at the wrist. Below, wide trousers closed at the ankle, on the head a skullcap embroidered with gold; the parted and braided hair is covered with a black silk net, and a veil descends from the head to the hem of the robe. To go out they wear a bell-shaped mantle, gray, black or blue, which covers the whole head and reaches up to the feet, with a small opening for the eyes. The peasants and nomads go uncovered. The jewels of the commoners are mostly made up of silver coins. In large cities, and especially in the capital, ladies often wear European costumes, with a thick veil around the hat. Specimens of Afghan costumes are preserved in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The Afghāno Sird ā r Iqbāl Ālī Shāh very gracefully describes, in his book Afgh ā nist ā n of the Afgh ā ns, the customs, ceremonies and superstitions that refer to the family life of the rich. The frame is given by Muslim law, the local customs are varied and picturesque. Noteworthy is the use of sayyid (descendants of Muhammad) and mull ā (spiritual leaders) not to marry outside their own class.
Some Afghan tribes practice levirate, with others engaged couples serve future in-laws for a few years. In some parts the marriage takes place through the purchase of the bride, and the ceremony includes a simulated rat. Polygamy and repudiation are frequent. Following the example of the reforming ruler Aman Ullāh, some aristocratic families are monogamous. Women, especially in the city, lead a strictly secluded life.
Religious faith is deeply felt, practices observed with scruple. Mostly any religious culture is missing; instead, the cult of spiritual leaders is widespread (p ī r, mull ā), a powerful class even politically, to which supernatural powers are often attributed. Their miraculous tombs are a destination for pilgrimages (Ziyārah); it seems that fanatical tribes have sometimes even killed some holy man to possess his tomb. Infringements of orthodoxy are severely punished: in cities, people of all classes were, and perhaps still are, scrutinized on prescribed prayers, and publicly shamed if they turned out to be ignorant. A case of stoning of Muslims passed to a heretical sect occurred in 1925. Some regions are particularly fanatical, as the Zamīndāwar, where cases occur gh ā zismo (religious fury that is expressed in the extermination of the unbelievers).
The Afghan superstitions are those of a large part of the human race: evil eye, divination, hexes, ordeals, filters, amulets, exorcisms, scapegoat. Widespread practices of witchcraft, practiced mostly by women. The mull ā, especially in Badakhshān and in the NE region, profess magic and superstitious medicine, with ascetic practices they acquire authority over the ginn, and trade in amulets and magic formulas. In addition to the ginns of the Koran, the Afghāni believe in the souls of the unburied dead, which take on various forms, in the fairies (par ī, of Persian origin) and in the souls of pious people, embodied as animals. The aforementioned volume of Iqbāl reports many curious information on the subject, as well as beautiful legends, derived largely from the Arab and Persian classics, or inspired by Greco-Buddhist ruins, the tombs of saints and the memory of historical figures: Alexander the Great, Tamerlane, Maḥmūd of Ghaznī, ‛Alī.
The main festivals of Afghānistān are the first of the year (Persian nīrūz, March 21), the well-known Muslim solemnities for the end of ramaḍān, the celebration, at the end of July, of the proclamation of Afghan independence, which is celebrated with ceremonies religious (reading of the Koran, sermon given by the sovereign, public prayer) and with various entertainments.